Here are some things I've done to save so far:
- Thrift and/ or consignment shop. I've had much better luck with maternity and baby clothes in consignment shops, but you can check thrift stores, too. The most I've paid for a used maternity item was $9 and I've gotten some nice, new stuff! I also rack up on baby clothes sales and get sleepers and other things for about .50 to $2 and item. My current 'rule' is that I don't spend more than $4 on a baby clothing item, and I only spend that if it's reallllllly cute!
- Join co-ops and buy/sell/trade (b/s/t) groups on facebook. I initially joined a ton, and then whittled it down to 4. I've gotten some really great prices on new and used cloth diapers, along with a few other things.
- Leave co-ops and b/s/t groups. WHAT!? No really. Once you get what you need, leave! You can always join back up later. Maybe jot down the name of your favorites somewhere; mine were Little Pumkin Noses Co-Op, Cloth Diaper B/S/T, and Fluff and Happiness Co-Op. But after you get what you need, unless you have the self control of a saint, you will probably find one of two things happening. 1) You will purchase things you didn't need/didn't join the group for. Because co-ops usually have SO many different buys running of things you didn't even know existed! And in the b/s/t group, you might end up with a super awesome diaper, but if you weren't going to spend money on it anyway, then it wasn't a savings! (Hello Avengers diaper #2). Or 2) You will get a case of the Joneses. You know, "jonesing" for things you want but don't have, can't afford, shouldn't spend money on, etc. I actually just left those groups last week after realizing I had what I needed, and it was so incredibly liberating, even if I miss scrolling through! Edited to add: I realized that there was one I didn't leave and, since then, I have bought 5 different things. Seriously, LEAVE THE CO-OPS!
- Think very carefully about registry items. To me, registries can be really tricky because you may or may not get what you register for. If it's an item you really need, especially a big ticket item, and no one gets it for you, then you are left figuring out affording it and trying to find a good deal on it last minute after the shower(s) are over. But if you just buy it in the first place, and someone would have gotten it for you, then you are spending money you didn't have to! I approached it in this way. If I found a deal so good that I knew someone shopping off my registry wouldn't find, I went ahead and bought it. Or if I'm really picky about the detail of something and I'm afraid that, in being ok with used items (I am!), I might not get what I want, then I buy it. But if I have a feeling that someone may buy the item for me and/or may be able to also find a good deal on it, then I leave it alone. And if I know that someone is eyeing an item on my registry and I see a sale on it, I let them know so I can try to pass the savings on to them. If you don't need the item right away (ie a particular crib mattress because we have a co sleeper and rock n sleep thing for the beginning), then you can afford to wait it out for registries and sales. It's definitely been tricky to balance!
- Ask experienced moms! I'm in a Catholic moms group on facebook and, though they probably weary of my constant questioning, I know they know all about the latest stuff on the market because they have little ones right now! So I ask them often about what they like/don't like, what they wished they had, what they got and never used, etc. That really helps me figure out 'wants' from 'needs'. I still have too much crap (which equals $$$ spent!), but it has been really helpful!
I know you experienced mamas can help add to this list, so leave it in a comment!